Police holiday banned and military support drafted in ahead of Commonwealth Games

Annual leave has been banned and military support is being drafted in to help police in the region ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Police officers from across the country will be used during the Commonwealth Games
Police officers from across the country will be used during the Commonwealth Games

Police chiefs said 1,500 officers from West Midlands Police will be bolstered by 2,000 police officers from forces across the country to help keep thousands of athletes, spectators and staff safe during the event.

The Games are taking place at venues across the West Midlands - including in Smethwick, Wolverhampton and Cannock Chase - from July 28 to August 8.

It has been branded the "biggest and most important" operation undertaken in West Midlands Police's almost 50 years of service, with the force having been founded in 1974.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: "(A total of) 1,500 West Midlands Police officers, 270 police staff and around a further 2,000 officers from around the country will work with the military and private security contractors on Operation Unity – the Commonwealth Games Security Operation.

"It will be the biggest and most important undertaken in the force’s nearly 50 years history. Thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of people will visit the region over the course of the Games and their safety and security is paramount.

"To ensure that the Games have a minimal impact on other policing activities, the force have enacted a leave embargo and financial agreements are being sought with the Home Office, to ensure that wider West Midlands Police activity in 2022 is not put at risk.

"I trust that the Home Office will step up, play its part and do what it takes to provide the appropriate and necessary financial support. To do otherwise at this stage of the planning process, would be a serious dereliction of duty."

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson, speaking at the Strategic Policing and Crime Board, said it was an "extraordinary privilege" for the force and the region to host the Commonwealth Games.

He added the force will be implementing a "leave embargo" – with levels of annual leave restricted – during the period, but he raised concerns over people building up too much leave and rest days which might "impact our service through the rest of the year".

Mr Thompson said discussions are being held with the Home Office to potentially pay officers for the rest days which would "make good sense" for the public, due to an "already pressured" force as a result of Covid-19.

A report to the meeting said: "Specialist support from the military during the Games has now been formally requested. A Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA) request outlines the requirement for niche and contingency military capabilities; this request is currently being considered by HM Government."

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